Q&A WITH PAUL

In this segment, you can find Paul's personal notes on his music and more information about his writing process. If you have a question for Paul, you can submit it here or on social media using the #askpaulfishman hashtag. 

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Paul has contributed music to over 100 soundtracks. Among others, his repertoire includes Death Wish, the platinum-selling soundtrack "Breakdance" and of course, Superman IV. In this post, Paul speaks about how music creates the atmosphere in cinema and explains how he came to record the Superman soundtrack in his spare bedroom.


How has the time you have spent writing film scores influenced the way you write music?


Writing film scores gives you a bigger palette and a bigger understanding of what music is and how it is used to do different things. In films, you are using music to enhance and create the atmosphere. The classic example is when you show a scene and play completely different music against it. You then realise that the scene has a completely different feel to it.


In the 80s, I was involved in producing music for a film called “Lemon Popsicle.” It was made by an Israeli director. The album charted and the film became a phenomenal success. As a result, they made nine other films in the franchise. What was significant about it was that the entire score was based on using live music - on famous rock n roll tunes. The franchise licensed more than 120 songs and ultimately, the story was told through the use of music.


Another interesting example of music operating in film is "Clockwork Orange" which featured a lot of Beethoven. I doubt he would have ever predicted his music would be used against such graphic violence and sex. But it works and it is memorable.


I studied film composition at Kingsway College. It's another world to pop and many of my peers wondered why I wasn't writing classical music.


If you want to work with a larger palette of colours, then you get into film music.


Is it true you recorded the Superman IV soundtrack in your spare bedroom?


After we recorded the third Re-Flex album, Humanication, I went back to the studio and I met with the guy who owned it. He told me that I should come back and check out the updated control rooms.


I started to realise that I had done two albums in the last two years. I had actually paid for these desks and now, he wanted me to come back and pay for them again.


I had started to do some experiments with digital recording at home. I realised you could take a Sony video F1 recorder, which is like a VHS, and you could digitally record on it.

When I got the budget to do the music for Superman, I decided to use this system to record some tracks that became the album “Jamming the Broadcast” in my flat.


Instead of going to the studio, I tried to record at home. In the end, I recorded the Superman score at home in my spare bedroom. The thing that really dawned on me is that nobody could tell the difference.



If you want to ask Paul a question about his music, you can share your question on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the #askpaulfishman hashtag.

Updated: Apr 26


"Pump (The Whitfield Effect)" is a track taken from It's About Time, Part II. In this post, Paul explains how Norman Whitfield influenced modern dance music and what we can expect from the official music video.


About The Music

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of remixing The Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” which I did with writing and producing partner Dave Harris. Having received a copy of the original multitrack tape from Motown, opening each of the faders on the mixing desk was a special moment.


For anybody that has never heard of Norman Whitfield, he was a producer & arranger who worked for the record company Tamla Motown and responsible for many of their classic records, especially those for The Temptations e.g. “BOC” and “Papa was a Rolling Stone”.


Whitfield’s approach was different to others because he saw that it was possible to extend the concept of popular music beyond a 3-minute format hit. He created tracks that were long and filled with dynamics. They were good songs but it was the production and arrangements that made these records so special because they were groundbreaking. He had stumbled upon something which was revolutionary and would later become the template for modern dance music. It’s not an exaggeration to say there’s an element of the Whitfield effect in every conceivable genre of club music.



About The Video

Over Xmas 2019 I began messing around with videos again. This was something that I hadn’t done for a while.


Somewhere during the early 80’s when I was performing with Re-Flex, MTV arrived and became a game-changer. When we first toured the United States, I could not believe how many people already knew who we were just from exposure on MTV. Personally, I never liked any video we ever made and if you are remotely interested in this subject there are references within the online Re-Flex virtual book “Re-Fuse, the stage of history” and can be found here.


A while ago, I thought about doing a dance video that didn’t involve making a fool of myself and the breakthrough came when I realised that I didn’t have to be in it. I have felt for a while that a hybrid form of disco was about to make a return. Disco is Back!



You can buy the full album on CD here.



"Tube (Hijack on the Northern Line)" is a track taken from It's About Time, Part II. In this post, Paul explains how his journey into work and an old friend inspired the unusual music video and experimental sounds of "Tube".




About The Music


After discovering some music apps on my phone, I started to use them while travelling on the tube. My regular journey from home to London Bridge for Resonance FM became a delight as I found the environment was conducive to creating rhythmical electronic music.


If you are a regular user of the London tube, you may be familiar with groups of musicians, generally of Eastern European descent who parade through carriages joyously performing songs from their native homelands. It is a form of mobile busking that dependent on where you are sitting, can be heard as they move towards and eventually descend on your carriage or as they disappear along the train. If at the time you are wearing headphones and creating an unusual form of techno music, the combination can create a strange blend.




About The Video


When I left school, I studied near Kings X at Kingsway College which was an unusual and formative experience.


A lot of students had part time jobs including a friend that I met called John. He was a few years older than me, a nice guy and when not attending classes worked as a train driver on the tube. I was interested to know what it was like and what skills were required. He explained that the driver really didn’t have to do much apart from resting his hand on a big button to make the train go. He was so casual about it that he wrote a lot of his essays while driving a train. I also recall that he was quite keen on recreational drugs and told me that he had taken LSD while at work. I haven’t seen John since I left college but I often think about him when I take the tube.



You can buy the full album on CD here.

© 2020 by Paul Fishman

PART ONE